Forest with saplings and fog

Three Poems by Hannah Fries

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To Take a Pregnancy Test after Miscarriage

Remember the place where you hid as child,
the pile of rocks that made a room
beneath a stand of arcing saplings.

Be there. Remember the satisfaction
of loneliness, the space you occupy
inside the secret of your body.

Wherever death has lodged itself,
tucked in the crevices of your being,
unfold: run your fingers through it,

soften it with beeswax and almond oil, feel it
loosen. Call down your most feral angel,
all wings and eyes and gale-force winds

to shove your heaving weight against.
Think of all the lacy ephemera
that have no business living—

luna moths, spidery orchids, mayflies
light as dust, feathered jellyfish,
baby hummingbirds for godsake—

a minuscule time-keeping muscle
could be beating already.

 

 

Postpartum

Ten days later,
I go looking for myself,
walk slowly
to the middle
of a field and stand, 
sun loosening my shoulders.

I become a bowl,
filling, and realize
that in the storm of labor,
which felt as much like death
as life breaking forth,
which called up such groans,

I did not cry out
to God. Neither in the peace after,
fish-child wriggling on my chest,
did I think to offer a prayer
of thanks, except, perhaps,
to my own wild body.

Does this have anything to do with faith?
The earth smells wet.
What I remember: the scent
of birth blood and witch hazel,
the nurse entering the dim room—
May I wash your baby?

And she did, silently,
cradling him against her forearm
next to where I lay.
No rush,
no ceremony.
Her competent hands.

The sound of water
running over his head,
down his body.

His inexplicable
quiet.

 

 

 

Fear of God

Not fire, unless you mean the snapping shrimp’s
plasma bubble, the whole ocean pressing in
till it (snap!) explodes.

Not judgment, unless you mean how a woman’s body
chooses an egg, grooms it four months
before letting it go.

Not choirs of angels, unless you mean the black hole
out of whose nothingness drones
a B-flat, fifty-seven octaves low.

Not plague unless you mean our cells’ well-planned
extinction: webbing dissolving to reveal
such fingers, such hands.

Not lightning, unless you mean the Judas tree,
its cotton-candy bloom igniting
the old resurrection show.

Fear, from per: to risk. The risk of God, the dare
of delicacy, fierce wager of conception,
the Word, again.

 

 

 

Hannah FriesHannah Fries is the author of the poetry collection Little Terrarium and the book Forest Bathing Retreat. She is the recipient of a Bread Loaf scholarship, and her work has appeared in American Poetry Review, the Massachusetts Review, and other journals. An editor for Storey Publishing, she lives in western Massachusetts.

Read other poetry by Hannah Fries appearing in Terrain.org: “Albatross,” poems by Hannah Fries and paintings by Sara Parilli, “Sea Paintings: Winslow Homer,” and two poems: “But See” and “Descending Killington Peak.”

Header photo by Robsonphoto, courtesy Shutterstock. Photo of Hannah Fries by Susan Quinn.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.